Manchester United wanted to get back to beating West Ham after a draw in the Premier League with Chelsea.
Eric ten Hag has fielded a much-changed starting line-up after the game with Chelsea: Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Maguire and Anthony Elanga replaced Jaydon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Anthony respectively.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s hard-fought win over West Ham.
Encouraging first half
United was undoubtedly the better team in the first 45 minutes of the game against a stubborn and defensively resilient West Ham.
The Red Devils demonstrated healthy possession of the ball (55%) and nine shots on goal, three of which hit the target.
United did well both with and without the ball and felt relatively comfortable, with the exception of one or two transitional moments that were quickly played by the back line.
Ten Haga’s wards created several chances, and on another day they could have scored even more on the break.
The deadlock was broken just seven minutes before half-time when Marcus Rashford rose highest, towering over Christian Eriksen’s incredible shot to send the ball into the West Ham net.
This goal was important for Rashford as it was his hundredth goal for the club of his childhood. A remarkable achievement for an Englishman who has spent this campaign in great shape.
100 GOALS FROM OUR VERY OWN, MARCUS RASHFORD. 💫
𝙈𝙖𝙣𝙘 𝙗𝙤𝙧𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙗𝙧𝙚𝙙. ✨ pic.twitter.com/AnkudkII3g
— centredevils. (@centredevils) October 30, 2022
The striker, who turns 25 tomorrow, was close to this in a number of other cases, but he was not mistaken when Eriksen’s shot allowed United to gain a foothold in the game.
Against a physical and aggressive Hammers team, Ten Hag and, of course, the fans would have been happy with the first half.
United seriously lack depth/quality squad options
Most fans will agree that at the beginning of the season, United were very weak and did not have most of the pitch.
However, today’s clash with West Ham made it more vivid and obvious. In the absence of a select core of regular starters, the drop in quality was huge.
Elanga, who came out in place of the injured Anthony, had almost no impact, and it is not surprising that he was removed first.
Maguire, who, as Ten Hag confirmed before the game, was only present due to Victor Lindelof’s illness, did not inspire any confidence in his first start after recovering from injury.
Ronaldo, like Elanga, almost did not exist and was an inactive passenger for most of the competition. Ten Hag did not have a central defender on the bench, and his attacking alternatives were limited to Jaydon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho.
No matter how talented Garnacho is, he is still young, and it is understandable why the manager keeps him from such a high-stakes case.
The lack of quality options is a big problem that the club must solve both in the January and summer transfer window.
The lack of depth is a huge obstacle for Ten Haga, who had to settle for improvised and quick decisions, such as playing Fernandes, naturally a playmaker, in the right flank position.
Diogo Dalot and Lisandro Martinez are reliably protected
In the second half, United were far from their more dominant first half as David Moyes’ players stepped up the pressure in search of an equaliser.
The Reds have been more than tested by the London club, who have used many opportunities in their quest to get a share of the points.
United fans should thank Lisandro Martinez and Diogo Dalot for their masterclass in defense.
The duo came up with a lot of heroic tackles, blocks and interceptions so that the team scored all three points.
The other was David de Gea, who was called to action and reacted accordingly.
Dalot and Martinez, in their energetic defensive play, were by far United’s most outstanding players of the evening. They will take over most of the applause, and rightly so.